Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Pensive

A group conferring lesson
Just a quick check to let you know how CAFE is progressing this year. In short, I'm loving it! I purchased The Pensive from the Daily 5 site and for me it is totally worth $39. I feel it is keeping me so focused. I entered all 68 students and then put them in groups. Then I use the confer with groups to write my lesson plans. It's great because I can just scroll down and see what I've done in the past. Then I click on the goal and choose my strategy from the drop down menu. If needed I can add a custom goal and strategy as well. I'm making sure I come back and revisit strategies knowing that teaching it just once to my students is not enough. If I'm not sure how to teach a skill I can just click on the CAFE menu in the Pensive and it takes me right to the website and I can read about it or watch videos. In the lesson box I jot down a few notes about how I'm going to teach the lesson and what book I'm using to model the strategy. Once I have my plans done for the week I download the page as a PDF and print it out and move onto the next group. We have to turn our plans in once a month. Last month my principal returned by plans to my room in the morning and as he started to open them I thought for sure he was going to say something negative but instead he told me how much he liked them!

This is what I see when I go to confer with a child. 
Once I begin conferring with students I use my iPad, I click on Confer and then the student's name and then use the same pull down menu and take notes on the child. I used to take notes but often times they ended up being about behavior and not reading. Once again this is keeping me focused. One feature that I just started using this week is the Keeping Track page. I can see at a glance who I need to conference with and make sure no one is slipping through the cracks. The one thing it doesn't do is let me see individual conferences within my groups. That would be quicker than scrolling through all the students.

Pensive Menu
I just did running records on my first and second graders last week. I took notes on each child in a Word document so I could easily print them and give them to the classroom teacher. My next step is to copy and paste those notes in the Pensive so I have all their information in one place and enter their reading level as well so I can track their growth here. All my students have to take the STAR test every 10 class periods. I'm also writing a note in here if the child's score is going up or down. I'm predicting when I go to write progress notes this year it's going to be much easier since I'll have all the information in one spot and it's going to give me good information on how they are doing as a reader.

If you're using The Pensive please let me know how it's going for you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tech Links

A new school year and it's time to pull some tech links together for our school newsletter. 

National Geographic -Online Magazines for Kids
Both sites have beautiful photos along with interesting articles on a variety of science topics. 
Children can read stories or have the articles read to them. It highlights words as they are read.
More advanced articles.

A site dedicated to helping parents learn about great books for children aged 4-14

This is a free site that allows you to add your child’s spelling words. Your child can take a test and play a variety of games.